By Dylan Butler
It was the type of hit that wasn't supposed to happen in the post-aluminum bat era of high-school baseball. So, Holy Cross senior first baseman Robbie Renzi was as surprised as anyone at Preller Field when he simply extended the barrel of his wooden bat across the outside of the strike zone and launched a home run over the fence in left-center field.
That three-run jack in the second inning was all Kevin Kilpatrick needed. The Holy Cross ace allowed just two hits in six shutout innings as the Knights cruised to an 8-0 victory against rival St. Francis Prep Wednesday afternoon.
“I just poked my bat out and was surprised it went that far,” Renzi said. “I guess lifting pays off.”
Renzi wasn't done there. He drove in three more runs with a bases-clearing double in a four-run sixth inning to put the game away.
In reality, Renzi did that with his first home run of the year. Not bad for someone who was benched for Monday's league game against Xaverian because of a lack of offensive production. But Renzi followed up a solid batting practice Tuesday with a monster day at the plate against Holy Cross' biggest rivals.
“This is the Battle of the Boulevard,” Renzi said. “It's a rivalry. You've got to come big.”
St. Francis Prep (3-2 CHSAA B/Q A) couldn't touch Kilpatrick, who struck out the side in his first and last inning en route to a season-high 12 Ks with just one walk. The St. John's-bound hurler actually kept his fastball high in the zone early in the game and his curve wasn't quite as good as it was in a league-opening 5-0 win at Archbishop Molloy.
But Kilpatrick got stronger as the game went on and retired 10 of the last 11 Terriers he faced. St. Francis Prep put a runner in scoring position just once and the closest they got to hitting Kilpatrick was when a shard from Bill Xouris' shattered bat came up the middle on a ground out in the sixth inning.
“Everything was working good, except Coach kept telling me I had to keep following through,” Kilpatrick said.
Derek Lamacchia, who drew two of Holy Cross' seven walks, closed out the Terriers in the seventh inning.
While Kilpatrick cruised, St. Francis Prep starter Jeff Merker couldn't get out of the second inning. Despite retiring Holy Cross (3-2) in order in the first, Merker walked Matt Valle and Lamacchia to set the table for Renzi's dinger.
“He couldn't find the plate, (Renzi) took advantage of it,” St. Francis Prep coach Bro. Robert Kent said. “You can't give (Kilpatrick) too many runs.”
After struggling against Vincent Reda, Holy Cross touched up Terriers' reliever Mike DiNoto for four runs in the sixth inning.
“I thought we could have tacked on a few more (runs) in the middle innings and we didn't,” Holy Cross coach Doug Manfredonia said. “It was frustrating that we waited until the sixth inning to tack those extra runs on.”
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